Houseparty, riding a pandemic-driven surge in usage, is trying to strike while the iron is hot: The social video-chat app has lined up Katy Perry, John Legend and over 40 other stars for a three-day livestreaming event this weekend.
Houseparty's "In the House" event, running Friday, May 15, through Sunday, May 17, will include performances by Perry and Legend, along with segments featuring Doja Cat, Alicia Keys, DaBaby, Bad Bunny, Neil Patrick Harris, Keegan-Michael Key, Idina Menzel, Sarah Michelle Gellar and more. Other talent newly announced as joining "In the House" include David Blaine, Lindsey Harrod, Gabi Butler, Snoop Dogg, Chvrches and Dua Lipa.
It's not just about performances, according to Houseparty CEO and co-founder Sima Sistani. While many entertainers have turned to performing online during COVID-19 lockdowns, this event is more than singing and dancing -- she says viewers will get an up-close and inside look at the celebs' lives and interests.
For example, Katy Perry (scheduled to go live Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET) will not only sing her new song "Daisies" (set to debut Friday) in her Houseparty livestream but she'll also talk about the inspiration behind it. Houseparty viewers will be able to watch cooking videos with Snoop Dog, Zooey Deschanel, Bad Bunny, Jose Andres and Christina Tosi; workout routines from Terry Crews and Cam Newton; dance with Derek Hough and Addison Rae; and a magic show from Neil Patrick Harris. Alicia Keys will sing and share her go-to workout routine.
"The 'In the House' series allows you to watch videos within Houseparty while chatting with your friends," Sistani told Variety. "We are bringing back appointment viewing... trying to capture that feeling of sitting on the couch for that special show with your family or friends on a Friday night. We've invited some of our favorite artists to participate in this kickoff event."
As a brand-building exercise, Sistani said that Houseparty is throwing the three-day event as a way to inspire joy and empathy, which she says is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event is free to all Houseparty users on iOS, Android and the web. The free-to-use app carries ads, but the "In the House" livestreams will not include advertising, said Sistani, who is a one-time CAA agent and former Tumblr media exec.
"This event is fully supported by Houseparty," Sistani said. "It is in line with our shared-experiences ethos. We are bringing content to our users that we think they will enjoy with their friends and family." The schedule for the event is available at this link.
Launched in 2016, Houseparty was acquired last year by games publisher Epic Games. Its popularity has boomed during the coronavirus outbreak, like videoconferencing service Zoom.
Over a 30 day period from mid-March to mid-April, Houseparty saw 50 million new signups; the company isn't disclosing number of active users. Average time in conversation per user has consistently remained above 65 minutes, according to Houseparty.
Houseparty is squarely focused on reaching consumers through a social-network lens with fun, multiuser features, versus more business-oriented services like Zoom, Cisco Webex or Google Meet. Facebook recently announced plans for Messenger Rooms, a free videoconferencing service.
In the Houseparty app, once a live video has begun it can't be replayed. However, the company will re-air each of the "In the House" shows exactly 12 hours after the original livestream. Everyone who opens Houseparty during an "In The House" live video can add it into their own group chats for a private viewing party.